WASHINGTON (December 30, 2004) – The nation's bishops have designated January 2-8 as National Migration Week, and have asked Catholics to mark the week with special prayers and activities that highlight the contributions of immigrants, migrants, refugees and people on the move to the United States and the Church's mission of welcoming them.
"The United States has been a beacon of hope and a haven for peace for generations of migrants and refugees," said Bishop Thomas G. Wenski of Orlando, who recently completed a three-year term as chairman of the bishops' Committee on Migration. "As a nation and as a Church, we must continue to offer hope and peace to the stranger among us. Indeed, our history has shown that the diversity of peoples who have arrived at our shores has enriched us both as a nation and as a Church."
"A Journey of Peace and Hope" is the theme selected for this year's NMW, highlighting the aspirations of many migrants and refugees who leave behind harsh, sometimes violent conditions in search of peace and hope for themselves and their families.
"Today's world continues to be a harsh one for the more than 35 million refugees and displaced persons," Bishop Wenski said. "Desperate poverty still forces millions to seek conditions worthy of human life far from their native lands. Peace and hope are indeed elusive for so many of our brothers and sisters."
National Migration Week, now in its 22nd year, was instituted by the Migration Committee of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops to raise awareness among Catholics of the plight of immigrants, refugees, and migrants. Among the activities suggested for celebrating NMW 2005 are: an ethnic food festival, an evening of multi-cultural music and dance, and art exhibit, or other social activities. Activities for children include the "Passport to the World" and "The Migration Timeline."
Special attention is being drawn this year to the 125th anniversary of the founding of the Missionary Sisters of the Sacred Heart of Jesus. The religious order's foundress, St. Frances Xavier Cabrini, was the first naturalized U.S. citizen to be canonized a saint by the Catholic Church. At the request of Pope Leo XIII, she brought the order to the United States at the beginning of the 20th century to minister to immigrants.
In addition to materials mailed to every U.S. Catholic parish and every Catholic elementary and secondary school several weeks ago, other resources for marking National Migration Week are available on the Web at: www.usccb.org/mrs/nmw.shtml
Although the national observance takes place January 2-8, young people, their friends and families, parishioners, schools, and dioceses will participate throughout the year in countless spiritual, educational, advocacy, and celebratory initiatives nationwide. National Migration Week is no longer a one-week event, but an ongoing effort to develop policies and awareness on the local level to respond to the needs of the diverse communities throughout our country.
NOTE: More information and resources are available on the Web at: : www.usccb.org/mrs/nmw.shtml